site logo
why does my cat smell like poop

Why Does My Cat Smell Like Poop? 7 Common Reasons And Solutions!

Curious about why your cat smells like poop? Explore possible reasons behind this unpleasant odor, including digestive issues, hygiene problems, or underlying health conditions.

As a veterinarian who has handled a fair share of fragrant felines, a common question I get asked is “Why does my cat smell like poop?

It could be a breeze to fix—maybe a missed spot during a self-clean or a full litter box. Sometimes, though, it points to a health condition. But don’t fret! We’re going to get to the bottom of this smelly situation together and find ways to freshen up your kitty.

We’ll look into what could be causing this foul odor and how to address it. Whether it’s tweaking their grooming routine or a visit to the clinic, we’ve got the know-how to help. Keeping your cat smelling clean is important not just for your nose, but for their health and happiness too.

There are many reasons your cat might smell like poop including poor grooming habits, a dirty litter box, underlying health issues, obesity, anal gland issues or a poor diet.

Untitled design 20

Why Does My Cat Smell Like Poop?

  • Litter Box Issues

cat standing next to litter box

Have you ever wondered whether your furry friend’s cat’s litter box could be the culprit behind that stinky situation? Maintaining a clean litter box is a crucial step in preventing bad cat smells.

If their litter box is not cleaned regularly or is too full, they might end up stepping on or lying in their waste. This can lead to a lingering smell that clings to their fur and paws. Not only that, if the litter box is in an inconvenient or uncomfortable location, your cat might avoid using it altogether, leading to accidents around the house.

How To Keep Your Cat’s Litter Box Clean:

  • Scoop regularly, at least once a day.

  • Perform a deep clean once a month to fend off lingering odors.

  • Use enzymatic cleaners for any accidents both in and around the litter tray.

  • Select litter that is both high quality and unscented, as some cats find strong fragrances off-putting.

Choosing the right cat litter is also crucial in keeping your cat (and home) odor-free. Opt for a high-quality, clumping litter that traps odors effectively and is easy to clean, ensuring waste is enclosed and the smell is minimized. This simple switch can make a big difference in how fresh both your cat and your home smell.

Remember, the setting of the litter box also matters. A spacious and private spot with good airflow helps prevent bad smells and gives your cat a sense of security. A messy litter box can significantly impact your cat’s hygiene, leading to them spreading feces on their fur and around the house, which contributes to unpleasant smells.


  • Fur Matting and Hygiene

cat being brushed

Nothing spoils a cozy cuddle with your cat like a whiff of something unpleasant. While cats are known for their meticulous grooming habits, they sometimes need a helping hand, especially those with long, luxurious coats. Mats in your cat’s fur can become unwelcome repositories for dirt, debris, and, yes, even poop, especially in those hard-to-reach areas.

Older, overweight, or ill cats may also struggle with maintaining their usual grooming habits, which can result in poop getting stuck to their back end and a less-than-fresh scent.

Keeping your cat well-groomed isn’t just about aesthetics—it’s about health and happiness, too. See our step-by-step guide later in this article for how to keep your cat clean.


  • Dietary Factors

cat looking at food bowl

Your cat’s sudden eau de toilette could be down to being fed a poor diet. Feeding your furry friend a diet that doesn’t align with their digestive needs can stir up some gastrointestinal upset, leading to smelly surprises in the litter box or, worse, around your home. To sidestep the stink, focus on quality protein and ditch the fillers. A healthier diet keeps your kitty smelling fresher and feeling happier.

Tips For Feeding Your Cat A High-Quality Diet:

  • Choose a Premium Diet

    Invest in a super-premium diet that’s tailored to your cat’s age, lifestyle, and health needs. It makes all the difference.

  • Prioritize Digestible Proteins

    Foods rich in highly digestible proteins can help reduce the odor of your cat’s waste by ensuring they absorb more nutrients, leaving less behind to offend your olfactory senses.

  • Avoid Sudden Changes

    Switching foods abruptly or opting for low-quality fare can disrupt your cat’s digestive system. Gradual transitions and consistent, high-quality meals help maintain a balanced gut and a less pungent litter box.

By tuning into your cat’s dietary needs, you can help eliminate those pesky pongs and keep your home smelling clean and your cat in tip-top health.


  • Obesity

overweight cat

When it comes to our feline friends, a little extra weight can lead to some not-so-little problems, like a poop-like smell that’s hard to ignore. Overweight cats often find it challenging to groom themselves effectively, particularly around tricky areas like their rear end. This grooming gap can leave feces remnants clinging to their fur near the anal area, which not only smells bad but can also lead to discomfort and even skin infections.

But the troubles don’t stop there. Cats carrying extra pounds might also deal with more frequent bouts of diarrhea or softer stools, a messy side effect of a high-calorie diet that lacks balanced nutrients. This can make the odor situation worse and hygiene even harder to maintain.

That’s why managing your cat’s weight with a proper diet and plenty of exercise is so essential. It’s not just about banishing bad smells—it’s about boosting their overall health and extending their life. A fit cat is less likely to suffer from diabetes, joint diseases, and other conditions linked to obesity.


  • Anal Gland Complications

cat licking butt anal glands

If you’ve ever noticed your cat scooting their bottom across the floor or excessively licking their rear, and there’s a distinctly bad smell in the air, you might be dealing with anal gland issues.

Cats have two small anal glands that normally express a potent, musky fluid when they poop, which helps them mark their territory. However, these glands can sometimes get blocked or infected, leading to a buildup of fluid and a pretty unpleasant smell. This not only makes your cat uncomfortable but can also leave your nose wrinkling in displeasure.

If you suspect your cat is struggling with their anal glands, a quick trip to the vet can clear up the issue. They can manually express the glands and treat any infection, helping to restore your feline friend to their usual, sweet-smelling self.


  • Underlying Health Conditions

sick cat

If your cat starts to smell like poop, it might not just be a simple case of needing a bath—it could be a sign of several underlying health issues.

Common Health Conditions That Cause A Cat To Smell Like Poop:

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

    Cats with UTIs may have urine that smells particularly bad, which can be mistaken for fecal odor if they’re grooming themselves and spreading the scent onto their fur.

  • Parasites

    Internal parasites like giardia can also cause significant digestive upset, leading to foul-smelling diarrhea that can soil fur and linger on the skin.

  • Skin infections

    Often exacerbated by poor grooming due to obesity or other health issues, these can create a pungent odor of their own.

  • Kidney disease or diabetes

    These diseases can alter a cat’s bodily waste smells, which becomes noticeable if they’re not grooming well.

  • Dental disease

    Cats suffering from dental problems may have a significant buildup of plaque and tartar, leading to gingivitis or severe periodontal disease. This can cause a distinctly foul odor from the mouth, which can seem like it’s coming from their entire body if they groom themselves with a bacteria-laden mouth.

If you catch a whiff of something foul, it’s a good idea to consult with your vet to pinpoint the problem and get your furry friend the relief they need.


  • Grooming Challenges in Senior Cats

old cat arthritis

As our beloved cats grow older, they might not leap or sprint as they once did, and sometimes, their grooming habits can slide a bit too.

It’s not just about keeping up appearances—mobility issues in senior cats can actually lead to them smelling like the litter box more than their usual selves. When arthritis or muscle weakness sets in, it can be tough for them to twist and turn to clean those hard-to-reach spots, especially around their rear end. If they can’t keep these areas tidy after a trip to the litter box, an unpleasant odor can start to set in on their fur.

To help your aging companion stay fresh and clean, a little extra grooming from you can go a long way. Consider setting up a litter box that’s easier to access and keep up with gentle, regular brushings. It’s a wonderful way to keep them comfortable and cuddly, ensuring they feel well-cared for in their golden years.

It may also be a good idea to visit your local vet – there are pain relief options available that can help take the edge off of an arthritic cat.

Untitled design 20

How do I stop my Cat Smelling Like Poop?

Proper Cleaning Techniques

If you’ve ever caught a whiff of something less than pleasant coming from your feline friend, it might be time to step up your grooming game! Here’s how to help keep your cat smelling fresh:

  • Brush Regularly

    Start by brushing your cat’s fur several times a week to remove dirt, debris, and loose hair. This prevents mats and keeps old fur from accumulating and trapping unpleasant smells.

  • Wipe Downs

    For cats that aren’t fond of full baths, use pet-safe wipes or a damp washcloth to gently clean around the rear and underbelly. This can help remove any traces of litter or waste that might be clinging to their fur.

  • Bathing

    If your cat is particularly smelly, a bath might be necessary. Use a cat-specific shampoo, and ensure the water is lukewarm. Always keep the head dry to prevent stress and gently lather and rinse the body.

  • Dry Properly

    After bathing, wrap your cat in a towel and gently pat down the excess water. If your cat tolerates it, use a hairdryer on a low, cool setting to help dry the fur. Avoid high heat to prevent burns.

  • Ear and Paw Cleaning

    Finish off by cleaning your cat’s ears with a vet-recommended cleaner and wiping their paws. This can prevent the build-up of dirt and bacteria.

  • Trimming

    For stubborn mats that can’t be removed by brushing or washing, the hair trimmers might be needed. This isn’t for the inexperienced, it’s easy to accidentally cut your cat’s skin so if in doubt book them in at the groomer or your vet.

By following these steps, you’ll not only help your cat stay clean and fresh but also enhance their health and happiness.

Keep the litter box clean

Keeping your cat’s litter box pristine is not just a chore—it’s a crucial step in maintaining your home’s freshness and your cat’s health. Imagine stepping into a restroom that’s rarely cleaned; you wouldn’t want to use it, right? Cats feel the same about their litter boxes. A clean litter box encourages proper bathroom habits and prevents odors from becoming a part of your cat’s fur and your furniture.

How To Keep Your Cat’s Litter Box As Clean As Possible:

  • Regular Scooping

    Make it a daily ritual to scoop out clumps and solid waste. Cats are clean creatures by nature, and a well-maintained box ensures they don’t walk waste back into your living space.

  • Frequent Changes

    Depending on your type of litter, completely replace it and thoroughly clean the box at least every two weeks. Using mild, non-scented soap or a special pet-safe cleaner can prevent chemical smells that might deter your cat from using the box.

  • Choosing the Right Litter

    Opt for a high-absorbing, low-dust litter. Clumping litter is particularly effective as it allows for easy removal of waste, keeping the rest of the litter fresher longer.

  • Proper Box Location

    Keep the litter box in a quiet, low-traffic area where your cat feels safe, but make sure it’s also well-ventilated to help keep odors at bay. Avoid cramped corners and ensure the location is easily accessible to them.

  • Disinfecting

    When changing the litter, take the opportunity to disinfect the box itself to eliminate any lingering bacteria that could cause odors or infections.

By following these guidelines, you’ll create a hygienic and appealing bathroom environment for your feline friend, something that’s essential for their comfort and your satisfaction.

Change their diet

What goes into your cat can significantly impact what comes out—and how it smells!

Feeding your cat high-quality food that’s rich in digestible proteins and low in fillers can dramatically improve their digestive health, which in turn can make their waste less offensive to the olfactory senses. Foods that are better suited to your cat’s nutritional needs can reduce the occurrence of diarrhea and improve the overall consistency and regularity of their stools, making them easier to clean up and less likely to cause lingering smells on fur or in the litter box.

Here’s a quick tip: Gradually introduce new food over a week or so, mixing it with the current diet and increasing the proportion of new food daily. This helps prevent digestive upset as your cat adjusts to the new diet. Also, ensure fresh water is always available, as proper hydration is key to healthy digestion.

Untitled design 20

Frequently Asked Questions Related To A Cat That Smells Like Poop

How do I get my cat to stop smelling like poop?

To get your cat to stop smelling like poop, focus on regular grooming, maintaining a clean litter box, and ensuring a healthy diet. Brush your cat frequently to remove dirt and debris, scoop the litter box daily and change the litter regularly, and feed your cat high-quality food that’s easy to digest. If the problem persists, consult your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

Why does my cat’s fur smell like poop?

If your cat’s fur smells like poop, it could be due to poor grooming, a dirty litter box, or health-related issues such as obesity or arthritis.

Why do I smell cat poop when there is none?

If you smell cat poop when there is none, it could be due to lingering odors trapped in carpets, furniture, or even the cat’s bedding. Thoroughly clean these areas using enzyme-based cleaners designed to neutralize pet odors. Also, check hidden spots around your home where old accidents might have occurred, and ensure the litter box is cleaned regularly. If the smell continues, consider replacing the litter box entirely, as plastic can absorb odors over time. Additionally, if you consistently smell odors that others do not, it may be worth exploring the possibility of phantosmia—a condition where individuals perceive smells that aren’t there—which can be discussed with a healthcare provider.

Why does my cat smell like poop after washing?

It could be due to several reasons. First, ensure that any remnants of waste are thoroughly cleaned from their fur, particularly around the rear area. Also, check if the shampoo used is effectively neutralizing odors rather than just masking them. Sometimes, lingering odors can be trapped in the fur or skin due to inadequate rinsing. You should also consider underlying health issues such as anal gland problems or digestive issues that might cause continued foul smells even after a bath. If the problem persists, a visit to your veterinarian can help identify and address any medical causes.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More articles from the Pet Health Guru
why is my dog eating poop

Why is My Dog Eating His Poop?

World's Most Absorbent Cat Litters Compared

The 5 World’s Most Absorbent Cat Litters Compared

how do you know if your cat has a UTI

How Do You Know If Your Cat Has a UTI? Recognizing Signs and Symptoms

white specks in dog poop

White Specks in Dog Poop: What They Really Mean

Why is my cat laying in the litter box

Why is my cat laying in the litter box?

Unscented vs scented cat litters

Unscented vs Scented Cat Litters – Which is Best?

Scroll to Top